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"If there is one sector that has surprised the skeptics, it's tourism"

silveschurchPaulo Portas was one of several members of the Government who attended the inauguration of the new governors of the Portuguese Tourism Confederation, which took place yesterday in Lisbon.

The Deputy Prime Minister stressed the importance of the tourism sector for the cohesion and prestige of the country, for exports, economic growth and job creation.

"If there is one sector that has surprised the skeptics and defied some analysts, it is tourism," said a delighted Portas, bathing in the glory of a sector whose performance he successfully has managed to impede.

Stating that 2014 will go down Portugal’s history as a record year for tourism, the country received 16.1 million visitors and increased sector revenue by a ‘double digit percentage,’ Portas did manage to give praise to the private sector, copying the sober approach by the Minister for the Economy.

"Tourism was the light at the end of the tunnel," said Portas, adding that tourism was well promoted by both the state and private sector.
Portas said that Portugal has a unique mix of ocean, beach, sun, surf, gastronomy, history, nature, shopping, safety and a younger generation with a fantastic command of foreign languages, ​​in addition to its hospitality.

"We have all the conditions for the sustainability of tourism", guaranteed the deputy PM while not mentioning the real concerns of a sector which he successfully has ignored despite clear economic advantages obtainable from small policy changes.

The restaurant sector has contracted with tens of thousands of jobs lost due to the raising of VAT from 12% to 23% in a move that has constricted the sector and crippled its ability to invest.

The Algarve, which even Portas grudgingly admits is the country’s most important area providing as it does some 40% of tourism revenue and taxes, has been hamstrung by the toll system on the Via do Infante which has forced traffic onto the unsuitable EN125 making tourist journey times longer with many staying at resorts rather than travelling around the region.

The recent clumsy attempt by Adolfo Mesquita Nunes, the Secretary of State for Tourism, to simplify the local lodgings legislation which was meant to enable private villa rentals to flourish as an important segment in its own right, has led many property owners to withdraw from this growth market or remain undeclared and fiscally invisible.

The lack of a coherent transport plan for the Algarve region, plus an antiquated railway system with no link to the main airport remains an embarrassment as does this continuing situation in Portimão where the 15 year old plan to widen and deepen the access to the harbour to enable larger cruise ships to dock, remains just that, a plan.

The widely reported government moves to evict without compensation the inhabitants of the Ria Formosa islands and tear down their houses has not exactly helped the image of the area as many potential tourists by now will have seen footage of properties being destroyed and women weeping in distress.  

Portas can revel in the overall tourism growth as if he somehow had something to do with it, but he should be aware that much of the rise is due to the booming northern european economies, the performance of the euro against sterling and the tolerance of holidaymakers for whom a view of the sea and a cheap, cold beer makes up for the surrounding poverty, a culture of short-term contracts and a government that lacks an ability both to cooperate and effectively to think policies through.

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-11 #2 Denzil 2015-05-20 17:12
This also explains more clearly why foreigners are not wanted as owner managers in the Portuguese tourism sector.

The sooner this countries idiotic VIP elite is crashed and the people have a real revolution and get some common sense running the country - and a law against racism - the better for the EU.

At the moment Portugal is still - as it has always been - just an embarrassment.
-8 #1 Karel 2015-05-20 17:00
:-x Conlusion: tourism is definitely the next sector to attaque severely and to kill it.... and they already started the process: restaurant VAT 23%, stupidities in the alojamento local sector, extra tax on the rent cars in the airports, tourist tax in Lisboa, extra parking tax in the aiurports, toll taxes, etc. etc. etc.

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